Legends around wine

14/03/2022 | Uncategorised

Today we are interested in the myths and legends that persist around the world of wine. And yes, wine fascinates and amazes. And for many centuries, certain legends have been passed on to each generation and continue to shape the history of wine and viticulture… 

So how did we discover the size of the vine, the champagne? 

In this article, we will make you discover the greatest legends around the world of wine. 

Happy reading! 

The legend of the donkey of Saint Martin
– The legend of Dom Pérignon
– The famous adage of the pruning of the vine

The legend of the donkey of Saint Martin

The story of the discovery of the pruning of the vine is quite crazy. Legend attributes this discovery to a donkey! Yes yes a donkey, I explain. 

Saint Martin used to tour the monasteries during the winter to visit the monks accompanied by his donkey. 

Once arrived at the monastery of Marmoutier, Saint Martin dozed off under a tree on the edge of the monastery’s vineyard. He succinctly tied his donkey to the tree but as soon as he fell asleep, the donkey freed itself and went for a walk in the vineyards. Once Saint Martin woke up, he realized that his donkey had grazed the vine plants and trimmed the branches. Saint Martin apologized flatly to the monks and winemakers who were upset to see their vineyard ransacked. 

What a surprise it was not for the winegrowers to see that the grapes and the wine produced at the place where the donkey had eaten the branches, were of exceptional quality. For them who feared the harvest after the ravages of the donkey, the surprise was great. The bunches of grapes had been able to bask in the sun and gorge themselves with sugar. The resulting wine was no longer acidic as usual.

This is how the winemakers of the monastery realized that the pruning of the vine was beneficial for the quality of the wine. They then repeated the operation the following winter by bringing donkeys into the vineyard and sharing their knowledge with the vineyards next door. Little by little, the man and the pruner replaced the donkey with regard to the pruning of the vine.It is therefore thanks to the clumsiness of Saint Martin and the gluttony of his donkey that we realized the importance of vine pruning in wine production. 

Dom Pérignon: the inventor of champagne?  

In Champagne, legend has it that a certain Dom Pérignon is the inventor of champagne. He would have found the technique to make bubbles appear in white wine. Today this legend is disputed but continues to fascinate. 

Dom Pierre Pérignon was a monk in the monastery of Hautvillers in the17th century. He was in charge of the vineyard and the monastery’s cellar and had the ambition to improve the monastery’s wines to make them more attractive. 

At the time, each winemaker had to give part of his grape harvest to the monastery as a tithe. The monk Dom Pérignon was given grapes from several grape varieties and several different terroirs. He decided to take an interest in the characteristics of each grape variety to try to create the most interesting mixture and thus reduce the defects of the wine as much as possible. Over time, the monk discovered assemblages of incomparable quality. He is thus the pioneer in the blending of wines and the choice of grape varieties. He is still recognized today for his work and discoveries in “oenology“.

Nevertheless, legend attributes to him another discovery: the second fermentation of champagne. While working on the production of his wine, he decided to use other corks than those used at the time in wood. He used beeswax to clog the bottles for perfect hermeticity. But after a few weeks, a large part of the bottles had exploded in the cellar. Dom Pérignon realized that the sugar in the beeswax cap had caused a second fermentation. This new fermentation had created such pressure that the hermetic glass bottle exploded. 

We have evidence of this discovery only by a letter from Dom Jean-Baptiste Grossard dated October 25, 1821, where he writes that “it was the famous Dom Pérignon […] who found the secret to making sparkling and non-sparkling white wine and the way to lighten it without being forced to unload the bottles“.

However, a lot of research proves that this technique had already been discovered in England at the time. Many think that the Dom Pérignon brand plays with this legend for its communication and prefers to leave doubt hovering. Nevertheless, Dom Pierre Pérignon is still recognized for his progress on the blending of grape varieties in wine. 

“Size early, size late, nothing beats the size of Mars!”

A well-known adage of winemakers about the size of the vine is “Pruning early, pruning late, nothing beats the size of Mars! “. 

Indeed, over the years, several winegrowers have realized that the pruning of the vine in March made it possible to delay the departure of vegetation of the vine and thus avoid the risks of frosts. It can also help prevent the onset of diseases. 

Nevertheless, many winegrowers continue to prune the vine early, having finished before March. Thus, when the vine wakes up from winter, the wounds of the pruning are already “healed” and the sap can actively circulate in the vine. 

So size sooner or size later, give us your opinion!

And here are 3 legends and myths that still fascinate us about the world of wine. You can now impress your friends at your dinners with these legends.

See you soon for new news!

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